Fairley Family

Family of Joseph and Bridget Merritt Fairley

Julia Merritt’s sister Bridget was also born in Illinois, on Aug 27th 1856. She married Joseph Fairley on September 07, 1879. 

Joseph was born August 12th, 1850, to Samuel A. and Margaret Scott Fairley, early settlers of Cedar County, Iowa. Samuel came to Iowa in 1846, and Margaret came in 1838, according to the 1856 census. Samuel’s father John originally came from Northern Ireland. Joseph was Protestant and became Catholic at Bridget’s request. 

In 1881, the Fairley’s moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  They bought a lot in North Minneapolis. Joseph purchased the land for $450 built a small house on part of that lot. That address was known as 1719 5th Street North. Later, Joseph purchased the church parsonage from the old Swedish Lutheran Bethlehem Church, which was about 6 blocks away.  He moved it by horses and wagon to a new location, next to the 1719 house, 3-4 feet from each other. That house would be known as “the big house” (1717 5th Ave No) and the other would be known as the “small house”.

Gregory and brother Clare would swim in the Mississippi River, which was about 6 blocks from the “big house”, which was a dangerous area because lumber companies would float timbers down the river to the area where they swam.

The two residences remained in the family until the 1950’s; they were later destroyed in order to build Interstate 94. (Information obtained from great-grandson of Bridget and Joseph- he was born and raised in the big house until age 12.).

Joseph’s occupation is listed as express team. According to this website, http://rmhh.co.uk/occup/e.html, an express man was a messenger, someone to collect and deliver letters, packages or parcels that needed quick service.

In 1885, Bridget’s brother Michael Merritt is living with them in Minneapolis. The Fairley’s now have a two year old, Mary.

In 1900, they have three more children: Mary is 17, Joseph is 13, Gregory is 10, and Merritt is 3. Joseph is still an express man.

In 1905 Mary is 22, Clare (Joseph) is 18, there is a Harry that is 17 (Greg?) and Merritt who is 8. Joseph is still an express man. Harry is a clerk. 

Clare married Catherine Fries Jun 16 1909, and they are living in Minneapolis Ward 3 in 1910 with a nephew Charlie.

In 1910, Mary and Merritt are the only children at home. Joseph is now listed as a drayman for an engine company, which, according to website above, means he drove a long strong cart without fixed sites for carrying heavy loads. 

Joseph passed away August 12th, 1917, one day before his 67th birthday, due to pleurisy, chronic asthma and heart failure

On his WW1 registration card on June 5th, 1917, Clare Joseph reports he is a garbage collector for the City of Minneapolis Health Department. Francis Merritt reports he is living at the St Paul Seminary on June 3, 1918.

Greg served in the Army as a PCF from July 1918 to July 1919, stationed in Germany.
In 1920, Bridget is living with Gregory, who is a steamfitter, and they have a boarder, Patrick Byrne. 

1920  Joseph and Catherine now have three children and continue to rent a home nearby. 

In 1930, Bridget continues to live with son Gregory (William G. Fairley). Joseph and Catherine have a houseful, with their own three children, and 3 children listed as borders. Joseph is still working for the garbage department and son Donald is an upholsterer at a furniture factory. Merritt is teaching at the St Thomas.

Bridget Merritt Fairley lived until Dec 15th 1943.  She died at Our Lady of Good Counsel Nursing home is St Paul, of basal cell carcinoma of the neck area. Her son Father Merritt Fairley, officiated at her funeral Mass. Joseph, Bridget and Mary Agatha are buried at St Mary’s Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

·        Clare Joseph Fairley: Died July 17th, 1944 58 years of age, after an extended hospitalization, from acute bacterial endocarditis complicated by bronchopneumonia.
He was the only child of Bridget and Joseph's who had children. They also had several foster children, Delores Miske, born in 1926 came to live with them at 3 years of age and remained with them until after Catherine died in 1958.
Clare was a large man, 5'11 and weighed 255 at age 30. He held various jobs. At age 21 he worked for the Garvey Bros company, at 23 he was a representative for Dean and Company, in 1910 US census it states he worked as a machinist for a wholesale farm company. He was 27 when he established the Fairley and Brademan Company, which was a coal delivering business. When he died he was working for the Minneapolis Sanitation Department as a driver.
He also sold canaries. Every Sunday he placed a want ad in the Minneapolis Tribune, reading “Singers and females, also finches $2.50 pair” He shipped his birds all over the country. Every Sunday there was a local radio program sponsored by the Hartz Mountain Company, called the Hartz Mountain Master Radio Canaries. He had an arrangement with the radio station and every Sunday morning, Clare and another man had to bring a number of the canaries in cages by car to the station in downtown Minneapolis so the canaries’ singing could be heard in the background of the Hartz Mountain radio program. 
He was well liked by the community and had that Irish charm. He found jobs for many friends and relatives. He loved to fish.
One of his greatest contributions to the community was helping to create a union for City workers while he worked at the Sanitation Department. He became President of the City and County Employee’s Union. His obituary says “the life of Clare J. Fairley was intertwined with the advance of the trade union in the city of Minneapolis and he played his part faithfully and well. He was most active in the days when the great financial and industrial power of the city was pitted against the unions not nearly so powerful than as now. Fairley’s courage and strategy were an inspiration particularly in the struggle that saved the City Day Labor system from being destroyed by the enemies of organized labor to bring poverty and despair in thousand of homes”.

He lived with his mother from 1929-1932 at 1410 Dupont Ave N. They paid $12.00 for rent. After that he lived in various VA or "old soldiers homes" in Los Angeles, Clinton, Iowa and Minneapolis. He co-owned a small cabin on Prior Lake in Shakopee with his brother Father Merritt Fairley for a few years. He died at North Memorial Hosp from pneumonia and inflammation of the kidneys and is
buried at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in St Paul.  He is remembered as a marvelous storyteller.


·        Father Merritt Fairley:  died Nov 20th, 1956. He went by Merritt Francis Fairley, addressed as Father Fairley or "Merritt". He received his BA from St Thomas College, and went to the Theological College at Catholic University of America in Washington DC for his seminary training. Ordained in June 10, 1923, his first assignment was assistant pastor at the Cathedral of St Paul where he served from 1923-1927.  He taught history and Latin at St Thomas High School Academy and the College of St Thomas, where he also served Rector of Ireland Hall and a member of the Discipline Committee. At some point, he also went to Rome to further his studies. He apparently took a trip in 1925 and returned from England, but it is not clear where the original destination was.

He also served other congregations in Minnesota; Church of the Visitation in Danvers, St. Barnabas in Barry, St. Peter's Church in Canby, St. Michaels in Milroy, St. Gertrude’s in Forest Lake, St. Stephen's in Minneapolis and St. Mary's in Shakopee. It was said he was an excellent speaker and very bright.

He died in 1956 from a sudden and unexpected heart attack. The Shakopee Tribune newspaper said (Nov 22, 1956) "During his pastorate in Shakopee, Father Fairley endeared himself to everyone who had the good fortune to know him. He had an absorbing interest in youth and their welfare and availed himself of every opportunity to be of assistance to them. His funeral mass was pontificated by Archbishop Wm O'Brady.